Sunday, July 17, 2011

Little Italy San Francisco

San Francisco, June 2011
It's not often that nine friends happen to be in San Francisco on a random Wednesday night. Five of us were about to head to the Napa Valley the next day for a wedding but the others were pure coincidence which was cause for celebration. After heading out to the sticks to 'Tommys Tequila Bar' for some pre-dinner drinks, we found a cute spot in Little Italy. Elicia ate a salad, the boys helped out in the kitchen, the other guests left soon after we arrived and my meal was hot and tasty. 6/10

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ugg boots, hot milo and a little grey cat

Mullumbimby, June 2011
Talking about the weather gets old quickly but it's hard to talk about anything else at the moment. When I lived in Dublin my friend used to say 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation'. Meaning the weather is always going to be absolutely ridiculous so it's your fault if you don't have 5 layers with you.  I think I had 4 layers on when we went for Milk and Honey in Mullum on Thursday. We came back and put the fire on which you can see Buttons enjoying here. She sits so close to it I think she'd be medium rare. The spaghetti was freshly made and delicious as always. 6.5/10

Shanghai Airport Spaghetti

Shanghai, China June 2011
Jeez a 5/10 at the airport is alright. I'm not sure if Australian airports would get that kind of score. I was dubious when I saw the kitchen equipment consisted of 5 microwaves but was pleasantly surprised. I'll be back to China again soon and will stop in at Hope Star on my way out.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mr and Mrs Bund

Shanghai, June 2011
When I visited Shanghai 5 years ago we snuck into the hotel restaurant for a steak a couple of times. We just didn't seem to be hitting the good spots and a particular beef soup with floating bits of cow hair is burnt into my memory. This time around, the food was outstanding. We ate like kings every day whether it was chinese, indian, italian or western food. One special meal was at Mr and Mrs Bund - a well designed restaurant by Paul Pairet overlooking the Bund. The artsy meals were tiny but delicious. The middle picture is little restaurant down some stairs that had cute booths and no english (we had to act out cow vs pig). The bottom picture is Ricey ordering 5 meals ( he only ate 1) at Grape Restaurant - if you go to China, look this one up.

Chopsticks Spaghetti

Shanghai, May 2011
The Chinese are masters of imitation. They can perfectly copy something so well you can't tell which one is the original. Lucky for me this extends into italian food. The Taikang Road Art Centre in Shanghai is a grid of alleyways filled with boutiques, bars, galleries and restaurants. It's so cute, all the shops are miniature and often have little ladders leading up to an upstairs section. After eating Chinese for breakfast we felt less guilty about eating at an italian restaurant for lunch. The spaghetti was clearly made fresh and the sauce was divine. I gave it an 8 in the piccy but it deserves a 9 for sure. We went back again 2 days later.   

Friday, April 29, 2011

Real country folk

Mullumbimby, April 2011
We got a good dose of human contact over easter. One of the highlights was showing our little farm to the real country people - Mard and Ross. The things we squeal over they eat up with a big old spoon. Tales of piggin, roo shooting and thousands of acres of red dirt are a long way from our tea and scones. It was great to catch up and we took them to trusty Milk and Honey which was pounding with Bluesfest people. The standard didn't falter despite the crowds. Mard thoroughly enjoyed her pancetta and pea pasta giving it a 9/10 and my pomodoro was damn fine also - 7/10. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sue Ching's Spaghetti

Brisbane base soft-sculpture artist Sue Ching has made her own spaghetti and outdoor BBQ made out of felt. Best thing I've seen in ages. See more here

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Don Gato the Cat

Melbourne, March 2011
You roll the dice when you fly Tiger. I chanced it last minute to pop down to Melbourne and surprisingly everything went smoothly. There were other interstaters in town and much merriment followed. As usual I got a little overexcited at the amount of old friends in one place and peaked too early but by now we're all used to that. The next day we headed back to Giz's to inspect her prized capsicum plants. Much to her horror, her bumper crop turns out to be something other than capsicums...most likely weeds. Fertilised, stalked weeds. The best loved weeds in Melbourne I'd say. After this crushing revelation she kindly humoured me to some homemade spaghetti and we sat outside, staring at the capsicums/weeds. I left out some key ingredients to the spaghetti but it was a lovely all the same. 6.5/10

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Milk and Honey

Mullumbimby, March 2011
Milk and Honey was brilliant yet again. Close your eyes and think you're in Italy kind of brilliant. With the right balance of fresh flavours, it's certainly making up for a few bad spaghetti's I've had along the way. This particular Thursday was St Paddy's Day. We headed into Byron for a few afternoon pints and this was the perfect way to finish things off on our way back to the farm.  8/10

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Home grown, home made

Mullumbimby, March 2011
We often talk the veggie patch talk but to be honest, I know little about it. I didn't think vegetables and herbs would be so fussy. They want to sit next to a certain vegetable, don't like another one, prefer spring, only bloom once, go to flower. It's exhausting keeping up with them. I see why farmers stick to one thing. As a result, Ricey is into all sorts of thing and I tend to focus on one vegetable and make that my prized crop. At the moment it's cucumbers, they literally form overnight - very satisfying. Did you know they have spikes when they grow? As a result, they haven't been nanged on my little creatures. I've also been allocated a citrus tree that I've been pruning. I just want to prune everything in sight but apparently that's a winter thing, pff, so I've been let loose on one tree. We're not even sure what it produces - either mandarins or oranges. Either is fine by me. The pesto for our spaghetti is home made from the patch. Most meals have something from there in them, whether it's a herb, an eggplant, some zucchini, just something little. It hit the spot this particularly evening. 8/10

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hugh Mackay

Lismore, sometime during 2010
There are some really good things in Lismore. Unfortunately the kids spaghetti at The Lismore Workers Club isn't one of them. But that's not what you go Lismore for. Apart from all the 'big shops' we don't have in Mullum, there are also great vintage shops and an art deco cafe called 'Mecca' with old school booths. What drew us there on this particular day was Hugh Mackay giving a speech for the launch of his new book 'What makes us tick'. If you're not familiar with Hugh, he's a social researcher full of interesting observations. Like Seinfeld humour, a lot of what Hugh says is right in front of us everyday but we just don't see it for what it is. He used to come and speak at Clemengers when I worked there years ago. I'm glad we made the journey, even though the Spaghetti was soggy the Workers Club was buzzing. 4/10

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another excuse to eat Coopers Shoot Tomatoes

Since our trip to Spain last May, we've been pestering our spanish friends to send us a traditional gazpacho recipe from their relatives. Rosh and Javier finally pulled through with the goods last night which coincided with our trip to the Mullum farmers markets this morning. With our beloved Coopers Shoot Tomatoes you can either get squishy souping ones or hard ones perfect for bruchetta. The gazpacho was came up really well (not that I have actually eaten it before). We used red vinegar instead of the recommended white which may have been a slight error but it was good all the same. Here's the recipe in Spanish if you fancy making it yourself.

1 Kilo de tomates (rojos y blanditos)
1 cebolla mediana
1 pepino
1 pimiento italiano
1 diente de ajo
1 vaso de vinagre
1/2 vaso de aceite de oliva
Agua (aproximadamente un litro)
Una pizca de sal
Se pelan los tomates y se trocean.
Se pica la cebolla una vez limpia y se trocea.
Se le quitan las pipas al pimiento y se trocea
Se pela el pepino y se trocea
Se pela el ajo.
Una vez limpio y troceado todo, se pone todo en un recipiente para triturarlo con la batidora y se añade el, agua, el vinagre, el aceite y la sal y se bate todo bien, hasta que quede todo liquido. Se prueba. (si esta muy fuerte se añade agua y si esta flojo se pone un poquito más de vinagre y sal).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Booking made for 6:15

Brunswick Heads, February 2011
Somehow we ended up at dinner on a Tuesday at 6:15 and were those people who knew what they were having before the menus arrive. Granted we'd skipped lunch but it was a little too 'we're forty three and drive a station wagon' for my liking. This potentially affected the score, as did the scattering of parsley throughout which I can't help but associate with the 1990's. Mushy pasta didn't make things better but the sauce was tasty. We'll have to go back to this little local spot and give it a second go with a cocktail to start. 6/10

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Guest Blogger speaks his mind. "It's not that I'm angry….I'm just disappointed….”

Brunswick Heads, February 2011

I’ve seen a lot in my job as a spaghetti blog photographer. Terrible lows (please refer to “Ewww Shudder” July 2010), quizzical looks from chefs as they hope that 3 fingers is a funky new version of a peace sign as opposed to the tearing down of their nonna’s nonna’s recipe and new dining companions declaring: well, Sophie, I’ll have to make you MY spag bog; to which I interject: no pig and no cheese; and think: let’s give you a 7 to be polite right now.

The rewards for my toil are making the one I love happy and (usually) 2 beers to cleanse the palate, the lion share of a bottle of red and if I’m lucky a cheeky little glass of port to finish with.

I have, however, always hoped that I would be there for the elusive and much spoken about 10. Alas, I was at home on the farm looking after our new kitten, Buttons, while this magical mark was reached amidst much partying in Sydney.

After much ranting about my disappointment, questioning the validity of the score and suggesting that the city smog had a played tricks on her new found country girl sensibilities said blogger has appeased me with my own blog entry so here goes:

Sophie came back from Sydney having revived her youth. Hanging out in large groups, partying until 5am and saying things like “off the richter”. Imagine her disgust when we turned up to a local Italian, Dominic’s in Brunswick Heads, at 6:15pm on a Tuesday. Since it was maybe the second time in our relationship I had suggested we eat pasta her disgust vanished quickly.

Dominic’s is consistent with a lot of the restaurants in our area: low-key surrounds (please see photo-they don’t get too much more low key than a guy with a rat’s tail next to a guy with a mullet) with tasty food due to fresh local ingredients.

My meal was the slow cooked lamb with gnocchi. 6/10.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

An oldie but a goodie

Brisbane, February 2011
Growing up Ginos was my second kitchen around the corner. Eventually they recognised my voice on the phone and would just say 'see you soon Sophie'. The time it took to get there was aligned with my little parcel of goodness being ready for collection. The perfect arrangement. They even catered for my 21st. Nowadays my loyalty remains but my friends and family have been burnt out. I suspect I made them go there one too many times. There is far too much rolling of the eyes and complaining in order to get my fix. It's nothing against my beloved Ginos, more to get a reaction out of me I suspect. But like smells bring back memories, Ginos reminds me of happy times. Same floor, same tables, same smiling owners and the same taste. I think of Sunday night dinners as a kid when it's still light outside and then boozy nights with the girls back when people could smoke inside and there were plastic plants everywhere. My latest takeaway was as good as always and I look forward to the next. 7.5/10

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

That's a 10.

Sydney, February 2011
I was salivating before we even got to Il Baretto and it lived up to every bit of my hype. In all the thousands of spaghetti bols I've had, this is it. The Queen of spaghettis. Chewy fresh pasta, finely minced sauce with a balance of tomato. Tasty wine and epic bruschetta. Sometimes all the details just fall into place - a lazy summer Saturday, good old friends, a friendly waitress and visiting the random pub across the road first where you can take your drinks with you. The standard has been set. 10/10

Monday, February 21, 2011

Big city lights

Sydney, February 2011
Ok so I may have gotten just a little bit over excited when visiting my old stomping ground. I just wanted to drink, eat and see everything in sight. A late night Friday was followed by spaghetti for lunch at the London Hotel in Paddington and spaghetti again for dinner in Slurry Hills. Eek! Don't tell the carb police. The London ambience and the company of my friends far outweighed the taste of the spaghetti. It was oregano central with proper stewed beef, alright in theory yeah but keep it simple peeps. Carrot popped its ugly little head up also. Not sure why people insist on trying to make it nutritious. Nobody is fooled. A lovely late lunch none the less. Spaghetti though scores 4/10

Monday, February 14, 2011

The way to a girl's heart

Mullumbimby, February 2011
I'm pretty hypocritical when it comes to Valentines Day. Choose when I for it or against it. When Ricey suggests making me homemade meatballs, I'm certainly for it. He spent hours in the kitchen, making a royal mess using every single piece of equipment to make this delicious meal. Only trouble was he snacked so much along the way that he didn't even eat his. I practically licked the plate. It was damn good, I guess I love spag bol and I love rissoles and this is like some kind of magical hybrid. I didn't rate it in front of him but it gets 8.5/10

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thirty degrees, no cheese thanks

Byron Bay, February 2011
Most surfers would be fanging to get their new board wet. We've had this beautiful 3 year old mal sitting in the shed for months now which is disgraceful. I guess it's ok because we're not actually surfers. Yet. Anyway it made it's maiden voyage at the pass in Byron today. Ricey scratched off the price tag while we were stopping for a bakery breaky. Corinne and Cameron were already there and Rach and Adam drove down for the day. After some sensational time at the beach spent falling off the board or even onto the board, we had worked up an appetite. Treetops at Belongil was the perfect spot to have some post-beach beers and italian. 6/10

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mole or piercing on the waitress? Still not sure.

Byron Bay, February 2011
Since moving to the farm, days have lost their meaning. We could pop up to Brisbane on a Wednesday and then work the weekend, it doesn't matter. The perks are when you have a night out in Byron on a Tuesday and lie on the beach the next morning, there's no one there. I thought no one worked in Byron anyway? Good point. But this day it was just the dophins, the kayakers trying to take photos of the dolphins, a few crusty surfers and us. We had been to Italian at the Pacific - it's next door to the Beach Hotel on the front there at Byron. Sweet low riding chairs, tasty wine and fresh pasta. Ricey nearly blew a button with his slow cooked lamb shank lasagne. The only bombdive was the creme brulee. Some monkey put pineapple or another other unwelcome fruit in there. Huge mistake. Italian nona's would be turning in their grave. Apart from that delightful. 8/10

Big in Brunswick Heads

Brunswick Heads, January 2011
Sorry everyone for this terrible photo but apparently a similar one now resides INSIDE Sticky Fingers. While we were eating, the guy who is selling Sticky's asked to take a piccy and now it's up inside the restaurant. Corinne isn't in the picture but she should be, she goes nuts over the Chango. In your head when you think of something - is it sometimes spoken by someone else?Perhaps that doesn't happen to you but it does to me. 'Chango pizza' is spoken by Corinne. Anyway I'm telling too many of my secrets. The spaghetti was brilliant as always and I shouldn't have finished it but I did. 8/10

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The mince makes it

Mullumbimby, January 2011
This is just a little home made number, pasta courtesy of Ricey's batch he made fresh and put in the freezer. I did everything I normally do and used lovely tomatoes from the markets and quality lean mince from the butcher. The problem is the mince is almost too good. It's got flavour and the stuff I'm used to from Coles obviously has so many preservatives in it that you can taste the 'meatiness'. Even though it's what most people would prefer I think I like the pretend meat in there, stuff you can see but can't taste. There's a Woolworths going in at Mullumbimby, much to many people's horror. We prefer shopping at the markets and independent stores but perhaps I'll sneak in there when I'm making spaghetti next and see if my theory is right. 5/10

One..two..three..four...Gizzy got it going on

Sunshine Beach, January 2011
Giz and Hambone's wedding gathered all our friends to Sunshine Beach for the week. With Giz's hens (followed by 7 hours of dancing), the wedding (amazing day, such a glowing bride) and the recovery/new years (boat then surfclub then apartment), the week felt like Schoolies V2. There are too many highlight to list and I got my fill of 'people' after living in the country for 3 months. 12 of us hired two units and group dinners followed, including the making of some spag bol by Jess, Rosh and I. There was a big of improvising and catering for such numbers always dilutes the tastiness. My claim of a 3/10 was met with cries of foul play but it was a genuine scoring. Jack was kind enough to be honest with me. Adam claimed it was like 'sizzlers spaghetti' which I took to be a bad thing but apparently it was a compliment. Unfortunately we had as much left over as what we ate and had to turf it on the last day much to Rosh's disgust. There was talk of taking it to a camp group for hungover people to nang on but this didn't eventuate. Bit of a shame, it would have been good to know what they thought. 3/10